France Ligue 1 – Metz v Lille Preview (13/8/16)

METZ-LOSC

Metz preview

Les Grenats finished third in Ligue 2 last season but I’m still not really sure how they managed to obtain promotion. It felt like they were very lucky throughout most of the season and they just happened to go on a really good run at the right time. My personal feeling at the time was this team wasn’t ready for promotion. I still maintain that belief and if anything I have a stronger feel that they’ll struggle. For this match the defensive duo of Signorino & Udol are both injured, so Metz will have a problem at left back. Georges Mandjeck is suspended from the midfield, whilst left winger Kevin Lejeune is out injured. Metz lost one of their best players from last season, Yeni Ngbakoto to QPR recently and their transfer dealings look quite poor to me. This will be coach Philippe Hinschberger’s first ever match in charge at Ligue 1 level. To be quite honest he’s not a coach I’ve ever rated and he could find himself way out of his depth in the top tier.

Lille preview

LOSC suffered embarrassment in the recent Europa League qualifiers, losing to Azerbaijani side Gabala. This was a serious disappointment and nobody expected them to slip up against such poor opposition. So they are out of Europe and can concentrate on domestic matters this season. Lilel have lost left back Djibril Sidibe to Monaco but they got good money for him. Julien Palmieri is his replacement and should do a decent enough job. In midfield, old legend Florent Balmont has departed and younger legs brought it. Younousse Sankhare arrives from Guingamp and should be an upgrade. Upfront, Eder has completed a permanent transfer from Swansea City. Key man for them in the final third will once again be Sofiane Boufal but he’s currently injured and will miss this match. Lille are pretty much at full strength minus his absence though.

Conclusion & betting analysis

I personally think Metz will be the worst team in Ligue 1 this season. I never felt they were ready for promotion and they haven't done much to reinforce their squad. If anything, they have gotten worse with the departure of Ngbakoto. Just looking at their team on paper, along with their manager it looks set to be a really struggling campaign for Les Grenats. I have to say Lille’s pre season and Europa League qualifying results have been pretty worrying. They certainly aren't entering the season in much form but should have too much quality for Metz here. Frederic Antonetti did a pretty good job with Lille last season and they are especially strong in defence and midfield. The visitors are favourites here and rightfully so. I’m never usually one to back away sides much in France, let alone the opening day. But I think Lille on a -0.25 handicap looks good value in this instance and should get the job done.

Prediction: 0-2
Recommended bet 1 unit: Lille -0.25 @ 1.90 (minimum odds acceptable 1.75)

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